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Building Our Child’s Self-Esteem

By Claudia Rios-Gastelum, LMFT 97284


Self-esteem is the cornerstone of our child’s ability to grow into happy and healthy adults. When one believes themselves to be capable of doing things and identifies their internal and external strengths, he or she has the tools to overcome challenges. As parents, we are our child’s first reflection of their inner capacity, self-worth and self-esteem. So how can we help our children with developing a strong sense of self-esteem, when other (peers, social media, etc) may be inadvertently negatively impact their self-esteem?

1) Words of Encouragement: Words are very powerful. We can all remember when words where used as weapons to hurt. The words and tone of voice that we use to talk to and about our children are the earliest descriptors that they learn to identify about themselves. Some parents may find that they often use the same phrases of encouragement or may feel that actions are better than words. Take your child’s lead — what actions from you, light up their

face with a sense of pride?

2) Emphasize Effort and Strengths Rather Than Task-Completion: “Good Job on getting a B on the test!” “You’re a good runner because you were the fastest.” Often times, children will only be praised when completing a task or demonstrating a specific outcome. Although task completion is a necessary objective to helping children grow, emphasizing effort allows for situations where a child can be supported in developing patience, perseverance and internal strengths.

3) Role Model Positive Self-Talk: As a mom, I am mindful of the words that I use to talk about myself. Am I modeling a positive attitude towards myself or using words of judgement? Our children notice how we talk about ourselves or others. This may be hard for some as we may have grown up in communities that taught that self-praise was not humble. Self-affirmations are ways that we can support healthy self-talk when we haven’t fully found confidence in our abilities and strengths. I have attached a list of affirmations and positive thoughts that we can practice as parents.

4) Give Grace to Mistakes- Mistakes tend to be seen as failure rather than opportunities to grow and learn from. Because of this, children are often times punished for mistakes rather than being taught to learn from those mistakes. Giving grace when mistakes happen allow for self-compassions rather than self-critique. Asking our children open ended questions about what lead to their mistakes as well as lessons learned allow them to develop critical thinking skills and open a window into correcting any negative self-talk around their mistakes.


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